Carts for Driving Llamas
For training, llamas and horses are initially
hitched to two-wheeled vehicles, which are called carts. After
adequate skills have been developed, both species can graduate
to any of the numerous types of four-wheeled vehicles (front-axel
articulating) if desired.
The ideal two-wheeled cart for equines or
llamas is perfectly balanced when the driver is seated and the
shafts are positioned properly in relation to the animal's body.
This means that shorter or taller animals require a cart with
slightly different balance.
Important! Proper balance does
NOT mean whether the shafts APPEAR level!
For both species, a swingletree is necessary
to eliminate harness chafing (buyer beware -- many cheap, so-called
breaking carts don't have one).
Both llama and equine training carts benefit
from wheels that are not too close together and a low center
of gravity -- features that allow the cart to resist tipping.
The ideal llama cart does differ in some ways.
Llamas in particular benefit from having a very light cart. Their
body mass is much less than an equine of comparable height, and
their musculature and skeletal design is not as conducive to
draft. Larger wheels also reduce the amount of effort for draft,
and this is important for the llama.
However, a llama's narrower body does not
benefit from narrower shafts, as some have supposed -- the spinal
column, which has less lateral flexibility than an equine's --
requires more room for the hindquarters to swing out through
turns, and thus requires more width at the shoulder as well.
Adequately long shafts, of less consequence
to an equine who trots and walks exclusively, are necessary on
two-wheeled llama carts because llamas must canter at least part
of the time as a concession to their inherent biomechanical deficits.
Shafts that are too short dramatically increase the force on
the llama's back during cantering and galloping, and also may
result in restricted room for the llama's rear legs during cantering
and especially galloping. Problems with shaft length most often
occur when llamas are hitched to a mini-horse cart, to a poorly-designed
cart of any kind with a square basket, or to a proper cart but
with the traces adjusted too short so that the full length of
the shafts is not utilized.
The first cart designed exclusively for llamas
(also the first one commercially available), the Harmony Cart,
is still the one we recommend. However, our highly modified pony
cart (with added swingletree and larger wheels), with its somewhat
lighter weight (from both original design and additional modifications)
and wider shafts than the Harmony Cart, is still the one Dusty
prefers -- despite the fact that Gwen and Jim certainly prefer
the easy-human-entry design of the Harmony Cart.
Although the Harmony Cart is no longer made,
an improved version, called the "Eagle Cart," is now
available directly from llamatopia.com.
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